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Need to find folders from closed account.

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Last night I deleted an e-mail address that is no longer used. Thinking that I my action would stop the programme from trying to connect with the previous provider to upload messages. However, disaster, the action automatically deleted all of my folders under that e-mail address. Many folders contained important information and documents, how do I get them back?

Last night I deleted an e-mail address that is no longer used. Thinking that I my action would stop the programme from trying to connect with the previous provider to upload messages. However, disaster, the action automatically deleted all of my folders under that e-mail address. Many folders contained important information and documents, how do I get them back?
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Toad-Hall
  • Top 10 Contributor
1806 solutions 12184 answers

You are not the first and you won't the last to not understand that removing a mail account does actually mean remove a mail account.

Pop mail accounts automatically store emails on your computer within a Thunderbird profile. As Thunderbird knows pop accounts download emails off server, even if the pop mail account is removed, the mail account will still be in the profile just in case of recovery.

Imap mail accounts store emails on the server and you subscribe to see folders so you can get a virtual view of the server folders and their contents. Whilst you can download full copies, you cannot regard them as a backup or a separate copy because imap folders sychronise with servers. You might have mbox files and you might not.

Hence why regardless of whether you have pop or imap or emails in 'Local Folders' mail accounts, you should always create a backup every once in a while because no matter how you look at it, there is only one copy.

Suggest you check to see what you have in the Profile. In Thunderbird

  • Help > TRoubleshooting Information
  • Click on 'Open Folder' button

A new window opens showing the contents of your profile name folder.

  • Exit Thunderbird now - this is important.

If POP:

  • Click on 'Mail' folder:

You will see a list of Pop mail accounts and 'Local Folders' mail account.

  • Click on name of pop mail account folder.

mbox files do not have any extension, they have same name as folder when you see it in thunderbird folder pane and mbox files contain emails. Any *.msf file is just an indexing file - no emails. Any *.sbd folder may contain subfolders, so could have mbox files.

  • Copy the mbox files and paste them into:
  • 'Mail' > 'Local Folders' mail account.

If Imap mail account:

  • Click on 'ImapMail' folder to see contents
  • Click on the name of the removed imap account folder

mbox files do not have any extension and they contain emails. Any *.msf file is just an indexing file - no emails. Any *.sbd folder may contain subfolders, so could have mbox files.

  • Copy the mbox files and paste them into:
  • 'Mail' > 'Local Folders' mail account.

Once all mbox files have been copied into 'Local Folders' mail account...Start Thunderbird.

You are not the first and you won't the last to not understand that removing a mail account does actually mean remove a mail account. Pop mail accounts automatically store emails on your computer within a Thunderbird profile. As Thunderbird knows pop accounts download emails off server, even if the pop mail account is removed, the mail account will still be in the profile just in case of recovery. Imap mail accounts store emails on the server and you subscribe to see folders so you can get a virtual view of the server folders and their contents. Whilst you can download full copies, you cannot regard them as a backup or a separate copy because imap folders sychronise with servers. You might have mbox files and you might not. Hence why regardless of whether you have pop or imap or emails in 'Local Folders' mail accounts, you should always create a backup every once in a while because no matter how you look at it, there is only one copy. Suggest you check to see what you have in the Profile. In Thunderbird * Help > TRoubleshooting Information * Click on 'Open Folder' button A new window opens showing the contents of your profile name folder. * Exit Thunderbird now - this is important. If POP: * Click on 'Mail' folder: You will see a list of Pop mail accounts and 'Local Folders' mail account. * Click on name of pop mail account folder. mbox files do not have any extension, they have same name as folder when you see it in thunderbird folder pane and mbox files contain emails. Any *.msf file is just an indexing file - no emails. Any *.sbd folder may contain subfolders, so could have mbox files. * Copy the mbox files and paste them into: * 'Mail' > 'Local Folders' mail account. If Imap mail account: * Click on 'ImapMail' folder to see contents * Click on the name of the removed imap account folder mbox files do not have any extension and they contain emails. Any *.msf file is just an indexing file - no emails. Any *.sbd folder may contain subfolders, so could have mbox files. * Copy the mbox files and paste them into: * 'Mail' > 'Local Folders' mail account. Once all mbox files have been copied into 'Local Folders' mail account...Start Thunderbird.
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Question owner

Thank you very much for your reply. I have an Imap mail account and was able to follow your instructions up to clicking on the name of the removed imap account folder as there is only one there, ie my current one. Is there somewhere else to look? Thanking you in advance.

Thank you very much for your reply. I have an Imap mail account and was able to follow your instructions up to clicking on the name of the removed imap account folder as there is only one there, ie my current one. Is there somewhere else to look? Thanking you in advance.
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Toad-Hall
  • Top 10 Contributor
1806 solutions 12184 answers

re : I have an Imap mail account and was able to follow your instructions up to clicking on the name of the removed imap account folder as there is only one there, ie my current one. Is there somewhere else to look?

Not within Thunderbird profile. Imap account folders are like a virtual copy of server. In some cases emails are fully downloaded if that option was set up, this allows access to emails if internet connectivity is temporarilly lost or if you need to create a backup. Imap accounts are not to be relied upon as having anything stored on computer because the design is such that emails are stored on server. If imap account folders connect to empty server then emails will be deleted. If you remove an imap account then you have removed it and emails are still on server - assuming the account is accessible. Therefore it is very convenient to create another imap account to same email address and server to see all emails again.

You mention you had important document/emails, so I'm presuming at some point, you synchronised folders and got full copies downloaded and then made a backup which you may have stored on an external drive. If this is the case, then you could get copies of mbox files moved into 'Local Folders' mail account.


re : stop the programme from trying to connect with the previous provider to upload messages. As a heads up for future use, the following would be the correct course of action. Ensure you had synchronised and downloaded full copies for all folders and then gone into 'Offline' mode to stop furher synchronisation. If you can read emails in offline mode then you have got full copies downloaded. Then in Offline mode: create folders in 'Local Folders' mail account ready to receive emails. Select/highlight batches of emails Right click on highlighted emails and choose 'Copy-to' and select the appropriate folder in 'Local Folders' mail account. Repeat, until all emails in all imap folders have been copied over to 'Local Folders' mail account. Thus having a complete copy on your computer outside of the imap account. Check you can read emails in Local Folders account - if yes, then you have good copies.

Back in Online mode you can delete emails off the server, so you know there is no copies of your emails left on server. Then remove the imap mail account. Finally, create a backup of your Thunderbird profile just to make sure you have more than one copy.

re : ''I have an Imap mail account and was able to follow your instructions up to clicking on the name of the removed imap account folder as there is only one there, ie my current one. Is there somewhere else to look?'' Not within Thunderbird profile. Imap account folders are like a virtual copy of server. In some cases emails are fully downloaded if that option was set up, this allows access to emails if internet connectivity is temporarilly lost or if you need to create a backup. Imap accounts are not to be relied upon as having anything stored on computer because the design is such that emails are stored on server. If imap account folders connect to empty server then emails will be deleted. If you remove an imap account then you have removed it and emails are still on server - assuming the account is accessible. Therefore it is very convenient to create another imap account to same email address and server to see all emails again. You mention you had important document/emails, so I'm presuming at some point, you synchronised folders and got full copies downloaded and then made a backup which you may have stored on an external drive. If this is the case, then you could get copies of mbox files moved into 'Local Folders' mail account. re :'' stop the programme from trying to connect with the previous provider to upload messages.'' As a heads up for future use, the following would be the correct course of action. Ensure you had synchronised and downloaded full copies for all folders and then gone into 'Offline' mode to stop furher synchronisation. If you can read emails in offline mode then you have got full copies downloaded. Then in Offline mode: create folders in 'Local Folders' mail account ready to receive emails. Select/highlight batches of emails Right click on highlighted emails and choose 'Copy-to' and select the appropriate folder in 'Local Folders' mail account. Repeat, until all emails in all imap folders have been copied over to 'Local Folders' mail account. Thus having a complete copy on your computer outside of the imap account. Check you can read emails in Local Folders account - if yes, then you have good copies. Back in Online mode you can delete emails off the server, so you know there is no copies of your emails left on server. Then remove the imap mail account. Finally, create a backup of your Thunderbird profile just to make sure you have more than one copy.
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